Rapid COVID-19 tests available at Sonoma County testing sites

FILE - A worker administers a rapid antigen COVID-19 test to a high school student at the Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus Gymnasium high school on March 16, 2021 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

Rapid antigen testing is now available at Sonoma County COVID-19 testing sites in Santa Rosa, making it possible for residents to know early results in 15 minutes.

At county sites, residents will take a BinaxNOW rapid test alongside the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test, which usually takes 48 hours or less to produce the results. The goal is for residents to know their COVID-19 status earlier so they can act accordingly as they wait for their PCR results for confirmation.

Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase says that there has been an increase in positive COVID-19 cases as larger events and county reopenings provide greater chances of virus spread amongst unvaccinated people. 

"While Sonoma County testing sites continue to use PCR tests to make final determinations about COVID-19 status, BinaxNOW is an excellent tool to assist in making quick decisions about isolation and quarantine while waiting for the PCR result," Mase said.

Those who test positive for the BinaxNOW test are asked to stay isolated until their PCR test results come in. If confirmed positive, county health officials can provide additional resources. 

Mase said that the county has made great strides in vaccination rates and is staying at or above state testing requirements, but 25 percent of the county is still unvaccinated.

"Testing remains crucial, especially for those who have not yet chosen to get a vaccine. The Delta variant is an increasing area of concern, and we continue to urge all community members to get vaccinated as soon as possible." Mase said.

Rapid and PCR tests are available at these eight Santa Rosa locations, all open from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.:

-Monday: Center for Spiritual Living at 2075 Occidental Road
-Tuesday: A Place to Play Park at 2375 W. Third St., Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at 1671 Hendley St. and Coddingtown at 1000 Coddingtown Center
-Wednesday: Rincon Valley Park at 5108 Badger Road (via the Montecito Boulevard entrance)
-Friday: Andy's Unity Park at 3399 Moorland Ave., Bayer Farm at 1550 West Ave. and Galvin Park at 3330 Yulupa Ave.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests testing to anyone who needs regular screening for employment, or any unvaccinated person who was exposed to COVID-19 or was in a highly populated environment. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 is also asked to get tested, regardless of vaccination status.

Walk-ins are welcome, or residents can make an appointment at sonomacounty.fullslate.com.

More county testing information is available online at socoemergency.org/test, or through the Sonoma County COVID-19 hotline at (707) 565-4667.